Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sleep-ful in Seattle

I'm sitting here at Sea-Tac, waiting for my flight and thinking about what a lovely weekend I had with the Roberts clan and their pal Nick.

I learned a lot about myself this weekend, not least that I am totally capable of going to sleep at 9pm and waking up at 7am. Yeah, that's right. I can easily sleep TEN hours a night if you let me sleep in a cool cave surrounded by the BEST pajamas ever (just like these except mine are orange stripes with blue trim and yes, they are a child size, and yes, I am reminded of The Cat in the Hat everytime I wear them) and some very heavy blankets.

I think this is why there's coffee EVERYWHERE here.

Even Nalu was a good sleeper.

Visiting Chrissy and Will is one of my favorite things because they feed me. Also because I love them and their adorable kids, but if we're being honest... the feeding me is no small thing. Chrissy even makes tons of wheat-free treats. Including bread! And focaccia!! And cookies!!!

Focaccia. Tastes just like the wheat kind. Amazing.

Not to be outdone, Will is a true foodie. One after my own heart, really -- he does things like make his own ricotta.

Whole milk, citric acid, cheese salt. That's it.

Draining the curds.

Yeah. Like that.

Chrissy also makes an awesome wheat-free pizza crust.
And then dinner looks like this. Pancetta, spinach, ricotta. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

The kids' pizza was pretty good, too. I may have stolen a bite.

They're also really delightful, really wonderful friends. And they're about to move to Norway. Like I needed that kind of excuse to visit.

Sunday night was everyone's last night at home - Chrissy and the kids are sticking around but Will was off to Norway for a couple of weeks, lucky Nick was off to Utah for some skiing, and I, well, I was back to home and work. Let's be honest, I haven't spent much time in either place lately between focus groups, the holidays, jury duty, and this vacation.


It was time.

It was cold and wintry all weekend in Seattle. It actually snowed, and all four adults elected to abandon the plan to go out "in the city" in exchange for some lazy nights at home. This mostly involved drinking a bunch of wine (and beer, for the boys), eating really well and in far too great a quantity, and falling asleep around nine or nine-thirty after a couple of episodes of Eastbound and Down (which is really hilarious, although Chrissy would disagree).

For serious, though. How can you not love a show with this kind of exchange?

Terrence Cutler: There's something you need to know, Kenny. You're not the only athlete here at Jeff Davis. I happen to be training for a Triathlon right now. Doin' a lot of running, and cycling, swimming. Well, you know all about that. 

Kenny Powers: No. Actually, I don't. I do SPORTS, not try to be the best at exercising. 

To be fair to us adults, the kids get up at like 5:30am. Not like 5:30. Actually 5:30. In the am. That makes 9pm seem like a pretty reasonable bedtime. But still. No one was sleepless in Seattle, that is for sure.

Sunday night was another really cold winter day. We were going to take a ferry ride but all we could manage to do was walk a bit on the beach before considering how soon hypothermia might set in. Nick was super nice and got us all coffees (and the kids chocolate milk) which helped a lot although I was so cold I debated pouring the coffee over my head as a staying-warm maneuver. In the end, this seemed like a very short term solution to the problem so I abandoned that plan.

The cold weather and the wonderful local seafood inspired me to suggest cioppino for dinner. I adapted mine from this recipe.

Do not be daunted by the list of ingredients! This is really very easy to make.

Kate's North Beach Cioppino
Serves 6

The Broth
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
about half a bottle dry white wine (I used a relatively cheap Pinot Grigio)
1 (28- to 32-ounces) can diced plum tomatoes including juices
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth

The Seafood
Use any combination of the following but aim for about 4-5 lbs total and no more than 4 different types. For this rendition, I used clams, mussels, mahi mahi, and shrimp. Without the crab, purists will claim this is technically not a "cioppino" but we had crab as an appetizer so it seemed a bit much to have it in the entree, too.

1 (1-pound) king crab leg, thawed if frozen, and hacked into 2 to 3 inch pieces
1 1/2 lb small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 lb mussels, scubbed and debearded
1 pound mahi mahi, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (you can also use other firm white fish - cod, halibut, etc.)
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20), shelled (tails and bottom segment of shells left intact) and deveined
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary

The Finishing Touch
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Accompaniment: focaccia or baguettes


Cook garlic, onions, shallots, fennel, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.) Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil. 
Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls. (We served ours over rice, too.)

If you can chop vegetables, you can make this. And you'll be glad you did. I wanted to drink the broth.

A few more notes from the weekend:
  • The same night I cooked up the cioppino, we made the kids shrimp and rice, (plus some refried beans for Josie, who's a beans and rice kind of girl. Love it.) The shrimp for them was super simple: some Old Bay cooked in a little butter on the stove, then I threw in the shrimp for a couple of minutes and sauteed them until cooked. 

This is a delicious method for cooking shrimp in a flash. Worth a try.

  • I saw this light fixture at Molbak's. It's super cute. Just what my dining room needs. And it was affordable. But why buy it when you can make it!? Chicken wire drum over a smaller burlap drum. Oh, how I love a textured, natural fabric. I am going to have to undertake this as a 2012 craft...


Chrissy said...

Ummmm....sleeping a lot is really good for your health. So we were just trying to keep you healthy. And we cook for you? I'm pretty sure it's clear to everyone that we invite you up so you can cook for us (and watch our kids). We miss you and loved your visit. Oh, and thanks for not posting the pictures of Josie's black eye.

lmajunior said...

The Cioppino temps me in this cold weather, but I'd have to go out to get the ingredients. I'd rather stay in and eat from the cabinet and fridge. Another day . . .